Posts

Showing posts from 2014

Lectio Divina for January

Image
So I'm just making this up as I go along, and don't know if anyone out there is interested, but I decided for this month, after catching up on the handful of days I missed in December, to start reading through Romans. We'll see how it goes! Anyone else out there doing lectio divina regularly? (Doesn't have to be daily.)

Writing an Icon during the 12 Days of Christmas

Image
I had great plans to write an icon during the 12 Days of Christmas. Boxing Day (December 26) I sat down with a Claybord and opened up the paints that I mixed *cough*two*cough* years ago to find all but two had hardened. I needed new containers and well .... new paint. This is not just a prayerful meditation in paint, but an experiment in using a different brand of paint. I was taught using Jo Sonja paint, which when watered down, creates a flat matte surface. I don't own any of that brand, but I do have plenty of Golden fluid acrylic paint. Why new paint? One of the colors mixes that survived was Hair. Which was turning Jesus into a redhead, thus the need for a couple of new Golden paints. I will share the equivalents, when I discover if they work. So far, the Raw Sienna behaves exactly like the Jo Sonja, which is to say, it's a pain to get even coverage. It is drying flat and matte. The Parchment, the only other color I could paint without needing later, has dried

The Magnificat (all the posts)

Image
Here's the list of all the posts I wrote this Advent on the Magnificat. I am not sure how I managed to write two introductions, but there you are: Advent Blogging: The Magnificat (11/25) On the Precipice: Beginning Advent (11/30) My Being Proclaims: Luke 1:46-48 (12/1) All Generations Will Call Me Blessed: Luke 1:48b-49 (12/8) For Those Who Fear: Luke 1:50 (12/15) The Promise and the Call: Luke 1:51 (12/17) Make Straight The Way: Luke 1:52-53 (12/20) Trusting in the Promise: Luke 1:54-55 (12/23) Today, Rachel Held Evans posted about the Magnificat . Well worth a read. On the 26th, I am planning to start a new icon, so I'll be taken up with that for a while and posting about it, but after that (and the occasional lectionary post), what should I write about next? Delving into scriptures has proven to be illuminative and transformative for me... Ideas?

Trusting in the Promise (Magnificat Series)

Image
54 He has helped his servant Israel,     in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,     to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Mary continues to speak of God's deeds as already completed, so sure is she that God will deliver. In these last two verses, she speaks of the scope of God's work: Israel, Abraham and his descendants. The promise God makes to Abraham is this "...through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." ( Genesis 22:18 ) Israel, the nation, restored, and blessings to come upon all nations. When I reflected upon this passage, the word that shimmered forth was "promise". Sometimes when I do lectio divina, the "shimmer" is a word that attracts, sometimes it's a word that repels. Whatever it is causes me to look closer at why that word or phrase caught at me, and "promise" had both positive and negative echoes. I t

God's love stories, Advent edition

Image
I am sure you have more than enough on your plates, getting ready for holiday festivities and what-not, but in case you need to procrastinate, here are some links to follow: "O Light" , an EP by The Liturgists . I haven't listened to all of it, only 5 of the 8 tracks, but "Advent for Weary Souls" by Amena Brown is powerful, powerful stuff. Made me cry. The music is both melancholy and hopeful. On African-Americans and #BlackLivesMatter: "Things I Don't Mean When I Say #BlackLivesMatter" by Colleen Mitchell at blessed are the feet. She found the words I lost. "Why I'm Not Color Blind" by Caroline at The Inklings, Etc. So. damned. honest. Thank you, Caroline "This Country Needs a Truth and Reconciliation Process on Violence Against African-Americans-Right Now" by Fania Davis at Yes! Magazine Another example of a way forward:  "How Same Sex Marriage Effort Found A Way Around Polarization"  by Lynn Vavr

Make straight the way (Magnificat series)

Image
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,     and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things,     and sent the rich away empty. Last week , I wrote about verse 51, which talked about what God does to pride. What happens when the core, most central, sin of pride is no more? The powerful are brought down from their thrones. There is no need for thrones when all are humble and look to God. Do you remember Samuel protesting to God about Saul being made King? ( 1 Samuel 8 to refresh your memory.) The lowly are lifted up: without pride, without sin, the playing field is level. There's no superiority in this world. The hungry are filled with good things: pride is no more, pride that can make us do selfish things, like hoard resources, like grain. The rich are sent away empty: everyone has enough. Not stuff for the sake of owning stuff, or nicer stuff, or more pretty-shiney stuff than one's neighbor. All are satisfi

The promise and the call (Magnificat series)

Image
51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. Mary speaks as if God has already acted, that all these things in this and the following verses have come to pass, because this is what God has promised through Gabriel, and throughout centuries of scripture. But you know what? They haven't come to pass. There are still chasms between proud and humble, rich and poor. So what happened? A Messiah came who wasn't what Mary was expecting either. A Messiah who showed us the way of delivering these hopes of Mary. Looking at the second verse: "He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts." In reading commentaries for today's post, I came across one in Feasting on the Word that said pride is the central sin. From pride comes all other sins and ways of breaking relationships with God and each other. Like when we know better than God in a certain situation (like that fruit in the

"... for those who fear ..." (Magnificat series)

Image
50 His mercy is for those who fear him     from generation to generation. Fear.  I get hung up on the word fear when I read this line. I'm pretty certain as a faithful God-believer that I'm supposed to be hung up on the word mercy. Fear. I think of the phrase from Frank Herbert's novel Dune that for a while I had memorized: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." (Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear) Pretty sure I wanted to be a Bene Gesserit when I grew up.  I really need to re-read that series... In church, I was taught that the word "fear" would be more correctly translated as "great awe". But when angels appear they always start with "Do not be afra

"...All Generations Will Call Me Blessed..." (Magnificat series)

Image
48b Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,     and holy is his name. This is God's work, not hers. That Mary will be called blessed is because God is working through her and her status (as a woman at that time) will be the highest because she is Mother of the Messiah. All generations have and do call her blessed, for having that sure confidence and trust to say yes to God, and for being the God-Bearer (Theotokos). And yet it all circles back to God. God is important here, not Mary’s blessedness. This isn’t a puffed up moment for her. She’s been thinking about this remember  and she knows this for she praises God as mighty and that his name is holy. The way ahead is scary: Joseph is in his rights to abandon her; her reputation would be shattered; she could end up on the very edges of society. And yet this is a great thing God has done for her because it means the Messiah has come.

Behind the Art of the Advent Choral Celebration flyer

Image
I've been designing the flyers for the Advent Choral Celebration, since I worked at Good Samaritan and with the music director we changed it up last year. This year, instead of finding artwork on Wikimedia Commons, I felt confident enough to try myself. I wanted something rich in color and to symbolize the energy of the music we're singing this year. The first attempt turned out wooden, like I was trying too hard to color in between the lines and ummm ... Can you spot E.T. Jesus? Yeah, so that. One day I will be able to do what was in my head. I went about the second attempt differently. I had just bought some new (to me) spray Inks xxx and pulled a couple of those and some glimmer mists. I set up the canvas panel on my easel, centered myself in prayer, and turned on the music. I had created a playlist of music I was supposed to be practicing by plus a bunch of Vespers of the Virgin Mary. And it all became organic from there: I sprayed, listened t

My Being Proclaims...

Image
Here’s how I started thinking seriously again about writing about the Magnificat. One of the songs we’re singing at the Advent Choral Celebration this Saturday is called Mary’s Canticle by Leon C. Roberts. It’s a gospel piece that has grandeur and solidity and sureness and guts. It got me thinking. So here we are. The Magnificat opens with: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant." ( Luke 1 : 46-48 NIV) For some reason when I think of Mary singing this (ok, the NIV says “said” but it’s a song), I think of it happening right after the angel's visit but it doesn't. She ponders things quietly in her heart. This song, known as the Magnificat from the Latin version, has been marinating for a while. As she readies and then makes the journey to her relative Elizabeth (about 80 to 100 miles) which takes about a week on foot according Logos , she has plenty of time to cons

Lectio Divina ... for December

Image
OK, I know this is not particularly cool to post twice in one day, but tough. I managed to Pin God First (led by Jennifer Dukes Lee) every day this month (of November) except one day when I had an early business meeting. How did it go? Well, even though I light candles at my home altar and pray ... my mind managed to whirl and drift and for the most part it was pretty frustrating. I thought my brain would be more quiet, somehow, that I'd hear God more or at least sense the Divine. I was thinking that maybe what I need to do is a month of Anglican rosarying (I'm sure that isn't a word) first thing in the morning to empty out my brain but instead, today, I put together a schedule for myself to continue the lectio divina practice through December. I thought it'd be neat to share it here in case, you know, you wanted to too. The names in parentheses are for audio meditations. Todd shares audio lectio divina meditations at Lectio Divina (When in Doubt ). I haven&#

On the Precipice: Beginning Advent

Image
We're on the precipice. It's Advent, the start of a new year. We're on the precipice like Mary was two thousand and fourteen years and eight months ago or thereabouts. Two thousand and fourteen years and eight months ago a young girl said yes to God and received the answer to her prayers, to her people's prayers. She stepped way out of her comfort zone because of what God promised. To her relative, she sings this. She is carrying the unborn Messiah, the one who will free Israel from the Empire, from the oppressive monarchy that has impoverished her people, her family, her father, herself. A Davidic Messiah. A Messiah like King David who defeated the Philistines and set Israel into its Golden Age. We can look back at that moment two thousand and fourteen years and eight months ago and think: boy, did she get that wrong. But how wrong did she get it really? Her son was quite the unexpected Messiah.  She saw the path ahead as straight, no

Advent Blogging: The Magnificat

Image
icon I wrote last year I will finally be blogging a series on Mary's Magnificat for this Advent. (I am also thinking about #AdventWord , the only reason I joined Instagram a couple of weeks ago.) I think I first talked about doing this blog series a couple of years ago after I led a series with fellow bloggers on the Prayer Attributed to St. Francis . The Magnificat is a song about so much, I didn't know where to start. It's so hard to get my head around. So I put it off. Today I made a start on the first post for the series, but looking ahead, given the grand jury decision in Ferguson that I just heard about ... I don't know how I can write about this without coming off as ridiculously white-privileged. It's a song of joy. It's a song celebrating the Messiah's impending arrival. It's a song of freedom coming, long hoped for. Yeah, I don't know what I'm going to say. I don't know if I'm going to say it right. So I inv

God's love stories: links that bring life

Image
These are stories that made me think this past month. How Hema Ramaswamy found healing through traditional dance (NPR) If you can't say it about Jesus, don't say it about God by Scot McKnight at Patheos " Enough": Demand a Plan for an end to gun violence: video on Upworthy Permission to Boast by Jennifer Dukes Lee (part of the Pin God First challenge she's leading and that I'm participating in.) From Oprah's site Something to try this Advent (starting November 30): Anglicans invited to 'celebrate Advent using their phones' from the Episcopal Digital Network . And last but not least, the r ather brilliant feminist twist on quotes from " The Princess Bride" (found on BuzzFeed ).

Answering the Call (Blogging the Lectionary)

Image
(just so there's a picture) Gospel this Sunday:   Matthew 25:14-30 Diana Butler Bass posted yesterday on Facebook that she has been preaching on these Matthean parables as she visits churches and speaks at conferences and that that has really transformed her understanding of them. And after I asked her if she would consider releasing those sermons, I thought: "wait a minute, haven't I been doing the same thing?" I went back and looked at my posts on these "the kingdom is like" parables. I found I didn't like a single one of them, that they didn't fit my theology, that I had to dig deeper. I identify with the third slave who buried the money he's been given. I don't like the whole judgeyness. Again. And I've realized that what I've had to dig deeper past is my theology, that I am so quick to believe that God is Judgemental and Mean, even though I profess to believe in a God of love. Remnants of a theology t

be still, a poem (Pin God First challenge)

Image
After missing one day on the P in God First challenge , Thursday I got back into it but the NRSV of Psalm 37:7 didn't resonate even a little bit. So I went to the next verse and this poem/reflection resulted. be still the psalm says I try and end up itchy -- antsy -- a mind-racing failure  be still the psalm says like a forested pond smooth glass life teems hidden skims the surface is that really still? A trout crashes upward, Pirouettes a response To an unseen call Step down to the shore Taste flowing waters, Life-giving Being still Is not becoming stone. To soften, give, respond, Some movement Is required Yeah, I don't have forested ponds where I live. I've seen them back east though...

Heart and Guts (Ping God First, Day 11)

Image
Romans 2:29: "Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God." During lectio divina, the phrase that resonated was "a matter of the heart". One is usually passionate about a matter of the heart. The phrase also evokes emotional responses.  I did wonder if the Greek had been mistranslated, as so often "heart" is substituted for "gut".  A matter of the gut, where instinct and intuition dwells. Today we talk about having a gut feeling. It's kind of primal, visceral.  If gut is what is really meant, the "real circumcision" Paul talks of is that the Way of God has taken residence deep in our being, within our cells. It means we respond to the world instinctively with God's love and compassion rather than with the mind working out the law. And yes, I'm aware of th

Lights, Waiting, Blogging the Lectionary

Image
(BTW, the Pin God First challenge is still on track.) The gospel for this Sunday is  Matthew 25:1-13 . This parable is of the foolish and wise bridesmaids seems to preach an exclusion that I don't care for (aka doesn't fit my theology). What to do then? How to reconcile the ending of unprepared foolish bridesmaids being left outside, strangers to the kingdom of heaven? Commentators (I read a bunch this week) pontificated on the audience that the author of Matthew was writing for, apparently struggling not only to distinguish themselves from what was becoming rabbinic Judaism, but from those who truly waited for Christ's coming and those who said they did, but didn't mean it and recanted when persecution came their way. Fine. But this theory is why the historical Jesus Seminar says this isn't really a Jesus saying. And while that may be true, that seems like an excuse. Sorry. This isn't the first time in the Bible that there has bee

Pinging God

Image
This morning I lit candles, having added some to my home altar space, quietly chanting in my mind and settled down to the day's lectio divina, which took about 15 minutes.  On the 2nd, the Scripture selection was 1 Thessalonians 1:4 and the phrase that resonated was "please God". Not to gain favor with God, but as a response to God. Yesterday, it was Matthew 5:11, a verse from the Beatitudes, which I'd heard as part of Sunday's readings for All Saints. The phrase that resonated "Blessed are you". Explored that as gratitude and then got sidetracked by thoughts of work. (Just in case you thought this was easy for me.) Lectio completed, I set a timer and pulled out Feasting on the Word and the Jewish Annotated New Testament , thinking to write a belated "blogging the lectionary" post. Maybe tomorrow. I've asked for some Hebrew assistance, so I'll get back to you on that. Maybe. The effect of pinning God first t

Find Your Life, Day 1 of the Pin God First challenge

Image
Pin God 1st - from Jennifer Dukes Lee's site The first piece of Scripture for the Pin God First challenge is Matthew 10:39: Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. The phrase which came to me was "find your life" (and that's not even correct, it's "find their life"). I delved into the context, as this is toward the end of Jesus talking about loving God first above all else, even family, taking up the cross and leaving all behind. Last night, my hubby and I went to see "The Good Lie" which has Reese Witherspoon in the supporting cast. It's about the lost children of Sudan and their long journey to America. It broke my heart twice -- because it's a recent release I won't reveal the spoilers -- so let's just say it was an incredibly unjust moment and a beautiful heart/soul moment. Tears kept welling up on the way home and this movie disturbed me. Disturbed me in

Pin God First -- November Challenge

Image
Jennifer Dukes Lee has challenged her readers to a " Pin God First" challenge for the month of November. She'd found that with her iPhone by her bed, her prayer time for God at that waking time had been lost to playing with her iPhone. I knew I had to read this before I left for work this morning because I have been struggling to not go to the computer first thing in the morning (that is, after getting dressed, feeding the dog and getting breakfast for myself to bring to the computer). My iPhone wouldn't last a second on my bedside table, it'd get lost amidst all the books.  I read a catalog this morning in order not to be on the computer first thing. Normally, I pray to God during my commute, because I take a bus and I do tend to get off track in my prayers sharing my concerns to God. I think for me, the hook is getting caught up -- this need to know what's been happening in the world and in my family and friends' lives. For Jennifer it's a

God's Love Stories .... lots of links

Image
I'm not even sure why I'm calling these God's Love Stories, except that they point to God and us working toward God's kingdom here and near us. Plus, there were a lot of really good links and I needed to close some tabs on my browser. 'Slow Activism': Organizing to the Tune of a Different Piper by Maxwell Grant at The BTS Center My Slower Paced Blog by Michel Boyett at found grace . Which pretty much sums up why I blog infrequently. 'Cause I don't wanna. The Spiritual Practice of Saying 'No' by Nadia Bolz-Weber at Patheos Why I Don't Go To Church by DL Mayfield I Am A Plus Size Woman Who Wore a Low Rise Bikini to the Beach and This is What Happened by Marie Southard Ospina at Bustle Nadia Bolz-Weber was invited to share a brief video at an online church conference. She turned it over to members of her church. Beautiful and true. Girl Starts Positive Post It Day (FaithTap) after being bullied This blog post has t he world&#

Let's Get this Party Started: Blogging the Lectionary

Image
This Sunday's lectionary readings are: Isaiah 25:1-9 Psalm 23 Philippians 4:1-9 Matthew 22:1-14 The gospel is another parable about the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus is sharing in the temple. It's the wedding feast for the king's son. Invitations go out and are ignored, or excuses are made, or the messengers are even killed. The king does some killing right back, and invites anyone his slaves can find in the streets, those who wouldn't normally get invitations, to the wedding feast instead. Then this poor guy shows up, without a wedding robe and is cast into the outermost darkness as a result. And I'm thinking, geeze, God, have a heart. It's not like he had time to go buy something to wear. I really dislike this gospel, not just because it seems so damn unfair, but because it has resulted in some pretty huge atrocities against Jews. Christians do love to take things out of context. It's very judgemental, and seems to be focused on who gets in

God's Love Stories .... post High Holy Days

Image
So I got caught up in the combined overwhelm of High Holy Days and catching a dreadful cold and have neglected this blog for the last couple of weeks. I thought I'd reboot with a selection of interesting blog posts from the last month or so. Sarah Bessey Fan Club (she wrote some amazing things this past month) 173 beats per minute made me cry Guard Your Gates is an adorable story about a family tradition and digs deeper Be Not Afraid: A Letter To My Charismatic Brothers and Sisters should be read by all, not just charismatics. Other Worthy-of-Reading Posts The Other Lie by Lisa Sharon Harper, guest-blogging at Rachel Held Evans' An Unzipped Heart... by Jennifer Dukes Lee, getting into the fears that hold us back Returning to Ferguson by Samantha Field at Defeating the Dragons A Generous Master by Rachel Held Evans, blogging the lectionary (which I need to get back to) Desmond Tutu's Four Steps to Forgiving Others , an interview at Religious News S

Blogging the Lectionary, Sort Of. On Forgiveness. Kinda.

Image
Last time I wrote about the lectionary it was for last Sunday’s gospel and the gospel from about three Sundays before that. Blogging about the lectionary is really struggling with what the Gospels are really saying, especially when I find it hard to understand or implement.  So when I read today’s Gospel   (Matthew 18:21-35) and Jesus saying we must forgive “seventy times seven” and then his hyperbolic parable about a debt that's impossible to incur let alone repay, perhaps to represent an unforgivable sin? … I struggled with what seemed to me to be an impossible ask laid out in this part of the gospel: to forgive unconditionally — even though that’s more or less what I pray for each time I say The Lord’s Prayer. It's what Christians are supposed to do. Today’s sermon by Rev. Daniel Pearson helped immensely in this — and I was particularly struck by a story that he told about a friend who referred to Desmond Tutu talking about forgiveness from the heart and then c

Conformity of Love: Blogging the Lectionary

Image
Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15) That's from the lectionary  of three weeks ago that I never got around to writing about. This might end up a bit of a series, personal reflections on these questions. I invite you to join me in them. (Take your time with them. I have.) Who do I say Jesus is? (And the corollary is: and do my actions reflect that?) What does the Cross mean to me?  Why the Church? Who do I say Jesus is? And is it different from who I say God  is? (Inasmuch as I know who God is anyway...) I say Jesus is Beloved and Lover. What I mean is that Jesus as the Son of the living God, is the embodiment of God's unconditional love ( chesed - loving kindness). He loves us, he listens to us, he comforts us. I was going to say more than this, share my history of how my view of Jesus has changed over the years: from this divine guy who pats the heads of children but is distant, to the brief period where I claimed him as mortal prophet only but